It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.
But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.
For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.
Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.
Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||8.30(w) x 5.76(h) x 1.02(d)|
About the Author
Hometown:Asheville, North Carolina
Place of Birth:Asheville, North Carolina
Education:B.A. in Literature, 1994
Read an Excerpt
The Peach KeeperA Novel
By Sarah Addison Allen
BantamCopyright © 2011 Sarah Addison Allen
All right reserved.
The day Paxton Osgood took the box of heavy-stock, foil-lined envelopes to the post office, the ones she'd had a professional calligrapher address, it began to rain so hard the air turned as white as bleached cotton. By nightfall, rivers had crested at flood stage and, for the first time since 1936, the mail couldn't be delivered. When things began to dry out, when basements were pumped free of water and branches were cleared from yards and streets, the invitations were finally delivered, but to all the wrong houses. Neighbors laughed over fences, handing the misdelivered pieces of mail to their rightful owners with comments about the crazy weather and their careless postman. The next day, an unusual number of people showed up at the doctor's office with infected paper cuts, because the envelopes had sealed, cementlike, from the moisture. Later, the single-card invitations themselves seemed to hide and pop back up at random. Mrs. Jameson's invitation disappeared for two days, then reappeared in a bird's nest outside. Harper Rowley's invitation was found in the church bell tower, Mr. Kingsley's in his elderly mother's garden shed.
If anyone had been paying attention to the signs, they would have realized that air turns white when things are about to change, that paper cuts mean there's more to what's written on the page than meets the eye, and that birds are always out to protect you from things you don't see.
But no one was paying attention. Least of all Willa Jackson.
The envelope sat untouched on the back counter of Willa's store for over a week. She picked it up curiously when it had been delivered with the other mail, but then she'd dropped it like it had burned her as soon as she'd recognized what it was. Even now, when she walked by it, she would throw a suspicious glance its way.
"Open it already," Rachel finally said with exasperation that morning. Willa turned to Rachel Edney, who was standing behind the coffee bar across the store. She had short dark hair and, in her capris and sport tank, looked like she was ready to go climb a large rock. No matter how many times Willa told her she didn't actually have to dress in the clothes the store sold-Willa herself rarely deviated from jeans and boots-Rachel was convinced she had to represent.
"I'm not going. No need to open it," Willa said, deciding to take on the mundane task of folding the new stock of organic T-shirts, hoping it would help her ignore the strange feeling that came over her every time she thought of that invitation, like a balloon of expectation expanding in the center of her body. She used to feel this way a lot when she was younger, right before she did something really stupid. But she thought she was past all of that. She'd padded her life with so much calm that she didn't think anything could penetrate it. Some things, apparently, still could.
Rachel made a tsking sound. "You're such an elitist."
That made Willa laugh. "Explain to me why not opening an invitation to a gala thrown by the richest women in town makes me elitist."
"You look at everything they do with disdain, like they're just too silly to be believed."
"I do not."
"Well, it's either that or you're repressing a secret desire to be one of them," Rachel said as she put on a green apron with Au Naturel Sporting Goods and Café embroidered on it in yellow script.
Rachel was eight years younger than Willa, but Willa had never written off Rachel's opinions as those of just another twenty-two-year-old who thought she knew everything. Rachel had lived a vagabond and bohemian life, and she knew a lot about human nature. The only reason she had settled in Walls of Water, for now, was because she'd fallen in love with a man here. Love, she always said, changes the game.
But Willa didn't want to get into what she did or didn't feel about the rich families in town. Rachel had never spent more than a few months in any one place growing up. Willa had lived here almost her whole life. She inherently understood the mysterious social dynamics of Walls of Water; she just didn't know how to explain them to people who didn't. So Willa asked the one question she knew would distract Rachel. "What's on the menu today? It smells fantastic."
"Ah. Excellent stuff, if I do say so myself. Trail mix with chocolate- covered coffee beans, oatmeal cookies with coffee icing, and espresso brownies." She gestured like a game-show hostess to the snacks in the glass case under the counter.
Almost a year ago, Willa had let Rachel take over the previously closed coffee bar in the store and gave her the go-ahead to put snacks that had coffee as an ingredient on the menu. It had turned out to be a great idea. Walking into the shop in the mornings was actually a pleasure now. Being met by the sharp scent of chocolate mingling with the moist scent of brewing coffee had a dark, secretive feel to it, like Willa had finally found the perfect place to hide.
Willa's store, which specialized in organic sportswear, was on National Street, the main road leading
to the entrance of Cataract National Forest, widely known for its beautiful waterfalls, in the heart of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. All the shops catering to the hikers and campers were located here, in
one long, busy stretch. And it was here that Willa had finally found her niche, if it could be called that. Truthfully, she didn't care much for hiking or camping or any of the outdoorsy stuff that sustained the town, but she was so much more comfortable with the other shop owners and the people new to town than she was with the people she knew in her youth. If she had to be here, this was where she belonged, not with the glittery townies.
The stores were housed in old buildings that had been built more than a century ago, when Walls of Water was just a tiny logging town. The ceilings were pierced tin, and the floors were nail-worn and lemony. With the slightest pressure, they creaked and popped like an old woman's bones, which was how Willa knew Rachel had approached her.
She turned and saw Rachel extending the dreaded envelope. "Open it."
Willa reluctantly took it. It was thick and rich, and felt like cashmere paper. Just to get Rachel off her back, she tore it open. The moment she did, the bell above the door rang, and they both looked up to see who it was.
But no one was there.
Rachel rubbed her bare arms, which were goose-pimply. "I just got a chill."
"My grandmother would say that meant a ghost passed by you."
Rachel snorted. "Superstitions are man's way of trying to control things he has no control over."
"Thank you, Margaret Mead."
"Go on." Rachel nudged her. "Read it."
Willa took out the invitation and read:
On August 12, 1936, a small group of ladies in Walls of Water, North Carolina, formed a society that has since become the most important social club in the area, one that organizes fund-raisers, sponsors local cultural events, and gives out yearly scholarships.
It is with great pride that the current members of the Women's Society Club invite you, as a past member or relative of a past member, to a special commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the formation of this great organization.
Come help us celebrate 75 years of sparkling good deeds. The party will be the first event held in the newly restored Blue Ridge Madam, on August 12 at 7 p.m.
rsvp with the enclosed card to Paxton Osgood, President.
"See?" Rachel said from over Willa's shoulder. "That's not so bad."
"I can't believe Paxton's holding it in the Blue Ridge Madam."
"Oh, come on. I'd give anything to see the inside of that place, and so would you."
"I'm not going."
"You're crazy to pass this up. Your grandmother-"
"Helped found the club, I know," Willa finished for her as she set the invitation aside. "She did, I didn't."
"It's your legacy."
"It has nothing to do with me."
Rachel threw her hands in the air. "I give up. Do you want some coffee?"
"Yes," Willa said, glad for the end of this conversation. "Soy milk and two sugars." Just this past week, Rachel had become convinced that how people took their coffee gave some secret insight into their characters. Were people who took their coffee black unyielding? Did people who liked their coffee with milk and no sugar have mother issues? She had a notebook behind the coffee counter in which she wrote her findings. Willa decided to keep her on her toes by making up a different request every day.
Rachel walked back to the coffee bar to write that down in her notebook. "Hmm, interesting," she said seriously, as if it made all the sense in the world, as if she'd finally figured Willa out.
"You don't believe in ghosts, but you do believe that how I take my coffee says something about my personality."
"That's superstition. This is science."
Willa shook her head and went back to folding shirts, trying to ignore the invitation, now sitting on the table. But it kept catching her eye, fluttering slightly, as if caught in a breeze.
She flopped a shirt over it and tried to forget about it.
When they closed up shop that evening, Rachel headed off to meet her boyfriend for an evening hike, which was so annoyingly healthy that Willa made up for it by taking a brownie out of the snack case and eating it in three big bites. Then she got in her bright yellow Jeep Wrangler to go home to do laundry. Wednesday nights were always laundry nights. Sometimes she even looked forward to it.
Her life was monotonous, but it kept her out of trouble. She was thirty years old. This, her father would say, was called being an adult.
But instead of heading straight home, Willa turned onto Jackson Hill, her private daily detour. It was a steep mountain slope and a dramatic drive, almost foreboding, but it was the only way to get to the antebellum mansion at the top, locally known as the Blue Ridge Madam. Ever since renovation had started on the place well over a year ago, Willa had made these secret treks up the hill to watch the progress.
The place had been abandoned years ago by the last in a series of shady developers. It had fallen into disrepair and had been slowly disintegrating when the Osgood family stepped in and bought it. Now almost fully restored, and soon to be a bed-and-breakfast with a banquet hall, the wide white Doric columns were back, spanning the length of the house in a dramatic neoclassic fashion. The lower portico now had a period-piece chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The upper portico had cast-iron chairs on it. And it was now a startling mass of windows, whereas before they'd all been broken and boarded up. It looked like something out of the old South, a plantation manor where women in hoop skirts fanned themselves and men in suits talked about crop prices.
The Madam had been built in the 1800s by Willa's great-great- grandfather, the founder of the now-defunct Jackson Logging Company. It had been a wedding gift to his young wife-a beautiful, delicate woman from a prominent family in Atlanta. She'd loved the house, considered it her equal, but she had hated this mountain town called Walls of Water, hated its lonely green wetness. She'd been known for throwing elaborate balls in hopes of coaxing the citizens to become as fine as she wanted them to be. It never happened. Not able to make society out of what she had, she'd decided to bring society to her instead. She'd persuaded her friends from Atlanta to come for visits, to build homes, to treat this place as a playful paradise, something she'd never felt herself, but she'd been very good at convincing others. It was the particular magic of beautiful, unsatisfied women.
And so a rich society had formed in this tiny North Carolina town surrounded by waterfalls, a town once populated mainly by rough logging men. These well-to-do families were curious, incongruous, and stubborn. Not welcome at all. But when the government bought the surrounding mountain forest and turned it into a national park, and the local logging industry dried up, it was these families who helped the town survive.
The irony was that the Jacksons, once the finest family in town, the reason for the town's existence in the first place, lost all their money when the logging stopped. The memory of who they used to be, and the money they used to have, sustained them for a while. But then they couldn't pay their taxes and had been forced to move out of the Madam. Most who had the last name of Jackson left town. But one stayed, a teenager named Georgie Jackson-Willa's grandmother. She was seventeen, unmarried, and pregnant. She became, of all things, a maid to the Osgood family, who were once great friends to the Jacksons.
Willa pulled to the side of the road just before the turn to the driveway up to the Madam. She always timed it so that she got here after the crew had left for the day. She got out of her Wrangler and climbed onto the hood, leaning back against the windshield. It was late July, the hottest, thickest part of summer, alive with the drone of love-sick insects. She put on her sunglasses against the setting sun and stared up at the house.
The only thing left to the renovation was the landscaping, which apparently had gotten under way just that day. That excited Willa. New things to study. She could see that there were wooden stakes and string markers making a patchwork of squares across the front yard, and there were different-colored dashes painted on the grass, indicating where the underground utility lines were so workers wouldn't dig there. Most of the activity, however, seemed centered on the area around the only tree on the flat top of the hill, where the house sat.
The tree was right at the precipice of the left slope. Its leaves grew in long, thin bunches, and its limbs were stretched wide. When light hit the tree at just the right time in the evening, it actually looked like someone on the edge of a cliff, about to dive into the ocean. A backhoe was parked next to the tree, and plastic strings were tied around the branches.
They were going to take it down?
She wondered why. It seemed perfectly healthy.
Well, whatever they did, it was guaranteed to be for the better. The Osgoods were known for their good taste. The Blue Ridge Madam was going to be a showplace again.
As much as Willa didn't want to admit it, Rachel was right. She would love to see what the inside looked like. She just didn't think she had any right to. The house hadn't been in her family since the 1930s. Even getting this close felt like trespassing . . . which, if she was honest with herself, was one of the reasons she did it. But she'd never even had the nerve to get close enough to look in when she was a teenager, and it had been a right of passage to break into the decaying house. In her youth, she'd pulled every prank known to man, and had been so good at it that no one had known it was her until the very end. She'd been a legend her graduating class had called the Walls of Water High School Joker. But this place was different. It'd had a mysterious push-pull effect on her, and still did. Every teenager who had ever broken into the house had come away with stories of mysterious footsteps and slamming doors and a dark fedora that floated through the air, as if worn by an invisible man. Maybe that was what had always kept her from getting too close. Ghosts scared her, thanks to her grandmother.
Willa sat up and reached into the back pocket of her jeans. She brought out the invitation and read it again. It said to RSVP with the enclosed card, so Willa looked in the envelope for the card and brought it out.
She was surprised to find a Post-it attached to it that read:
Your grandmother and my grandmother are the only two surviving members of the original club, and I'd like to plan something special for them at the party. Call me and let's try to work something out.
Her handwriting was pretty, of course. Willa remembered that from high school. She had once taken a note that Paxton had accidentally dropped in the hallway and kept it for months-a strange list about characteristics Paxton wanted her future husband to have. She'd read it over and over, studying Paxton's sloping y's and jaunty x's. She'd studied it so much, she found she could replicate it. And once she'd had that skill, it had been impossible not to use it, which had resulted in a very embarrassing encounter between uppity Paxton Osgood and Robbie Roberts, the school's own redneck lothario, who'd thought Paxton had sent him a love letter.
The Walls of Water High School Joker had struck again.
"Beautiful, isn't it?"
Willa jumped at the voice, her heart giving a sudden kick in her chest. She dropped the invitation, and it flew on the wind to the owner of the voice, standing a few feet to the right of her Wrangler.
He had on dark trousers with a blue paisley tie sticking out of one of his pockets. His white dress shirt was translucent with sweat, and his dark hair was sticking to his forehead and neck. Mirrored sunglasses hid his eyes. The invitation hit him flat against his chest and flapped there like a fish out of water. He smiled slightly, tiredly, as he peeled it off, as if this was the last thing he wanted to deal with right now. This was a sign, she thought. Though of what, she had no idea. It was just what her grandmother would say when something unexpected happened, usually accompanied by instructions to knock three times and turn in a circle, or put chestnuts and pennies on the windowsill.
He took off his sunglasses and looked up at her. A strange expression came over his face, and he said, "It's you."
She stared at him until she understood. Oh, God. To be caught here was one thing; to be caught here by one of them was something else entirely. Mortified, Willa quickly slid off the hood and darted inside the Jeep. It was a sign, all right. A sign that meant Run away as fast as you can.
"Wait," she heard him say as she started the engine.
But she didn't wait. She kicked the Jeep in gear and raced away.
Excerpted from The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Addison Allen. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
1. What do you think the title The Peach Keeper means? Who is the peach keeper in the story?
2. Superstitions played a big part in Willa's grandmother's life, and in Willa's life, by extension. What superstitions did you grow up with? Why do you think superstitions exist?
3. Several of the characters in The Peach Keeper struggle with how people used to see them as opposed to who they are now. Who were you in high school? Do you miss that person? Or are you glad to leave that time in your life behind?
4. Willa spent her formative years as The Joker, acting out and sparking controversy that she wouldn't become aware of until she was an adult. What do you make of her past actions? How does it connect to the way she acts in the novel? How does it affect her relationships as an adult?
5. The characters in The Peach Keeper live in an extraordinarily beautiful area, one surrounded by waterfalls. Yet Willa once remarks, "When you see it every day, sometimes you wonder what the big deal is." Do you think you get so used to beauty that you stop seeing it? What are some natural wonders in your area? Does Willa's comment also refer to people?
6. The Blue Ridge Madam takes on a life of its own in the novel, becoming much more than a building. What do you think it represents for the town? For Willa and Paxton?
7. There's a wisp of something supernatural following the characters in the story, seemingly brought into their lives by the discovery of buried bones under a peach tree. What are your thoughts on the supernatural? Do you think disturbing a grave upsets the spiritual side of things? Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
8. One of the prevailing themes in The Peach Keeper is friendship. Agatha and Georgie are elderly, and have been friends all their lives. Paxton and Willa have a newly formed friendship. The book posits that friendship is "a living breathing thing, something that comes to life the moment it happens and doesn't just go away when it's no longer acknowledged." If there is no big break-up, just a gradual separation, do you think the friendship still exists? Do you think once you are a friend, are you always a friend? Have you ever reconnected with an old friend and found that you still share a bond with them?
9. Sarah Addison Allen's books usually have themes of forgiveness and food. Have you read Sarah's other books? How is The Peach Keeper similar? How is it a departure? Did you recognize the reference to the main characters in her debut novel, Garden Spells?
10. Paxton, Willa, and even Willa's father, deal with parental expectation. Do you think that who we become in life is due in part to what our parents wanted us to be, or who are parents were? If you have children, how do they fit the pattern?
11. How do you take your coffee? Do you think that says something about you? Do you believe, like Rachel, that how someone takes their coffee says something about their personality?
12. What do you think of Paxton and Sebastian's relationship, and how it evolves over the course of the novel? Have you ever had a similar relationship in your life? How do you feel it fed into the overall themes of The Peach Keeper?
13. Willa and Colin have a complicated relationship from the start - what do you think is the strongest force pulling them together? Do you think their relationship would have worked had they met in another time and place?
14. In the end, Agatha keeps a secret she promised to keep seventy-five years ago. In this information age, we are not a private society. How hard is it to keep secrets? Would you be capable of keeping a secret that long?
15. The theme of roots runs through the novel - from the peach tree, to Colin's work, to the characters struggling with their place in Walls of Water. What about the town and its history draws people to it and entices them to put down roots? On the flip side, what about it causes others to deny their roots and move away? Have you had a similar experience with your home town?
By Sarah Addison Allen
You lie in bed, knowing you need to sleep, but you have to finish reading this chapter. You can never close a book unless you finish out the chapter. And even then, you’ll read on to an even-numbered page because odd-numbered pages are bad luck.
A book is like a charm to you -- like a new penny or a heart-shaped stone. You pick one up and suddenly everything is better. That's why they're always around, a different book in every room.
Your spouse laughs about the bookmarks you leave in odd places -- the one left in the refrigerator, the one on top of the dryer, the one, discovered years later, in a box of the baby’s clothes you’d stored away. But you need them. You leave them like breadcrumbs, so you can always find your way back.
Tonight, you finally find a stopping point and take the bookmark from under your pillow. There’s also one under the mattress, just in case. You mark the place, the lucky place you’ve chosen to stop. You close the book carefully and wish there was all the time in the world to read. With a sigh, you put the book on the bedside table and turn off the light.
Minutes pass. You reach over to touch the book, to make sure it's still there.
And it's right where you left it, which means all is good with the world.
Only then do you finally fall asleep.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I wish readers would refrain from using the book review option to complain about their dissatisfaction with e-book pricing. It is not the fault of the author and her rating should not be reflective of their frustration. Ms Allen is a brilliant writer who uses words in a magical, enticing way. Her quirky characters are charming and her ability to draw pictures with words is a true gift. Please read her wonderful fiction...and she will touch your heart.
The renovation of an Iconic home in Walls of Water North Carolina reveals more than flaking paint and sagging porches, there's secrets buried deep both on the grounds and in the hearts of two lifetime residents. When a body is discovered it forms a bond between Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood as they try to learn the cryptic and sometimes mystic reasons why. They also embark on a journey of self discovery that leads them to an uncertain, fulfilling and sometimes scary future. Sarah Addison Allen has this remarkable childlike imagination that features whimsy and magic right along side of realism. She gives us a plot that could be any small town USA or we could have parted the mist and revealed Brigadoon. It has mystery, it has romance, it has drama, you'll laugh and you'll cry and run the gamut of emotions. She will deliver this tale with her classic fanciful, descriptive and prose like narrative that fit her characters and scenes to a tee. Her characters will all stand out from her stars Willa and Paxton down to the bit part you only meet once, they are all over the top while being very realistic, someone from a fairy tale and yet a neighbor next door. Her main protagonists Willa and Paxton are two very different people on the outside and yet are both yearning without knowing how to fill that void on the inside. Her co-stars of Colin and Sebastian are excellent choices for these women and stand out among the other characters as well. There are romances in this novel as well as mystery, drama and a little bit of fairy dust, and the romances are very well told and will give her readers a fuzzy warm feeling when the read is over. The love scenes are well disguised with adult only innuendos so that no one reading this would have an occasion to blush or feel uncomfortable with the scenes. If you're a fan of Ms. Allen then you will absolutely love this book because it has her unique style that you'll recognize as unmistakably hers. If you've never had the pleasure of reading her, now is a great opportunity to do just that, believe me you won't be sorry that you did. Ms Allen kudos to you for another unforgettable tale!
It's magnificent. It's perfect. Her best yet. Need I go on? No, but I gladly will. Sarah Addison Allen is one of those authors whose works I must own in hard cover on publication day ...and I want a digital edition too, just so I can always have it with me. She makes me want to sink into a comfy chair and never put her book down. It's like a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a snowy day. Her writing is delicious. "Every life needs a little space. It leaves room for good things to enter." ~pg 70 I love that all the characters in Allen's books are struggling to find their way, not because they're overly flawed or damaged beyond repair, but because life is a journey full of crossroads. The characters are all likable in their own way, even if they have lessons to learn, and each has a little piece with which the reader can identify. "Happiness is a risk. If you're not a little scared, then you're not doing it right." ~pg 238 This is a theme in many of Allen's books, but it's a good one that bears repeating. I love the friendships in her books, the ones formed, and even the ones left behind. To move on in life, one has to grow, and in Ms Allen's books, the journey is sprinkled with a little magic along the way. Her writing is the perfect mix of whimsy and reality. Out of all of her books, this one was the least food-centric, but, surprisingly, I didn't miss it all that much. Yes, Rachel is working on her coffeeology, which I loved, but food and cooking do not play a predominant role here. Although speaking of food, I was delighted by the brief cameo of the Waverly's from Garden Spells, Allen's first book. This is my favorite Sarah Addison Allen book so far, though I feel like I'm choosing a favorite child by stating that... I still keep going back and reading little snippets to myself just to enjoy the last little morsels. I'm so enamored, I may even go back and re-read all of her books this summer. She is my comfort read and I urge you to try her books, so that she may become yours too.
Delicious and enchanting! Sarah Addison Allen does it again. She wrote another book that I love so much I cannot possibly put it down. I drop everything to sink into this amazing escape, only to be saddened because it has to end. Sarah's books are the perfect mixture of mystery, fantasy, and romance all intertwined with that southern magic. I think I will reread another one of hers now! Read this book, read all of her books, you won't regret it!
Another great book by, Sarah Addison Allen. This is the story of 2 generations of women grandmothers and granddaughters, friendship, secrets and ghosts. The 4 main characters Paxton, Willa, Sebastian and Colin are all trying to find where they belong and who they are. In highschool they were the princess, the joker, the freak and the stick man all of them are trying to live down these reputations and come into their own. Paxton is in the process of restoring the house The Blue Ridge Madam which was originally owned by Willa's family before they lost their fortune and the house in the 30's. Willa's grandmother grew up in the house but never talked about it to Willa. But strange things have been happening ever since the project has started that will bring Paxton and Willa together in a way neither sees coming. I loved this book Sarah Addison Allen is the queen of magical realism she writes it so beautifully and it is so believable. The characters in this book make you want to cheer for them and be friends with them. We also get an unexpected although brief visit from some old friends who are there to cater a party. This is a must read for lovers of southern fiction, magically realism and strong friendship stories. This is going on my favorites list and with all other books by this author will be one I will read again! I received this book from Librarything Early Reviewers Program 5 Stars
Thirty year old Willa Jackson hopes to be able to move beyond the long shadow cast by her ancestors who went from prominence to poverty. Her family's once proud home The Blue Ridge Madam symbolizes the acme and decline of her clan as much as her being a female storekeeper. The Walls of Water, North Carolina Women's Society Club President Paxton Osgood, who attended highs school with Willa, invites her and others to attend the gala reopening of the restored Blue Ridge Madam as a prestigious inn. However, the remains of traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked the circuit over seven decades ago, are found. Ironically as both struggle due to a lack of any true friends, their grandmothers Agatha and Georgie were best of friends. Now with a common cause to learn what happened to Devlin, they begin to investigate the talk. With a hint of magic in the air, Willa and Paxton begin to forge a friendship that each hopes mirrors that of their ancestors. Although there is a sense of Garden Spells in the air and a touch of the amateur sleuth, The Peach Keeper is more a character driven tale of friendship. Willa and Paxton are fully developed lonely protagonists who bond over Blue Ridge Madam renovation and corpse interred for years under the peach tree. The story line is uplifting as the magic of the latest visit to Sarah Addison Allen's North Carolina (see The Girl Who Chased the Moon) is everyone needs close friends. Harriet Klausner
Set in the Southern fragrances of peach blossoms this novel is an homage to friendship. Paxton, rich and insecure, Willa, poor but a fighter, ignite a friendship in their 30's that could have flamed from childhood. In a fight to save a mansion built by Willa's ancestors and acquired by Paxton's, the two women come to embrace each others faults and strengths to get the task completed. Along the way they both find and fight love, leaning on each other for support. I am smitten with this author and her way of writing emotions through magic. This book reminds me of women who have experienced the southern "friendships" to remain true to yourself, your dreams and who you want to be. Such a great author! As uplifting as a fairy tale, The Peach Keeper is a morality tale filled with humor. Almost makes you really believe in magic. Most definitely a KEEPER.
THE PEACH KEEPER is a sweet story about friendship, loyalty, trust and deep secrets, past and present lives and about "coming home". Food for the soul, Allen's writing soothes and comforts with a touch of believable magic and the supernatural. There is great insight, humor, triumph overcoming insecurities, all to feed the human soul. The wonderful, multi-faceted characters learn to lead with their hearts instead of their minds, and to accept each day as it presents itself. Hope and the possibilities that living life to the fullest are immeasurable and this story will hold your interest until you reach "The End".
I love her books. Such fresh writing and I love every one of them. This is definitely worth reading more than one time.
This book happens to be one of my favorites from Sarah Addison Allen. It tells the story of two main characters Willa and Paxton who's lives intertwine with one anothers as they find they have more in common than they think. It contains the greatest elements of a memorable book which is mystery, romance, friendship with a touch of magic. If you have read Garden Spells you will find that Claire Waverley plays a small part in the book which was a little treat for her loyal readers ( thought not necessary to have read Garden Spells for this book). SAA's book are my dessert for sure ! It is a must read for anyone who loves a little helping of all the ingredients that make for a wonderful novel.
I started this book at 9 p.m. and didn't put it down until I finished it at 1 a.m. I just couldn't stop until I found out what happened. I really enjoy SAA's books - they just have such a sweet, magical, longing feel to them that wraps you up in the characters and their stories. Normally I read books with more explicit bedroom scenes, but she has a great way of accomplishing that feeling without going into detail. Not to mention you always feel really warm & fuzzy after finishing her books. Can't recommend this book enough.
this is my fav book by this author so far. a wonderful story of family, friendship and love.
I really like this book. I am not much on words myself. just read it. You will love it.
Sarah Adderson Allen just keeps getting better, I didn't want the story to end as in all her books. Just enough mystery & romance. Love, Love, Love it! Can't wait for her next book.
I paid around $8.00 for this book. Sorry, I am having a brain freeze and can not remember the exact amount. When I daw it was only 180 pages, I felt cheated. Then zi started reading, for the next four hours, I was transported to another time and place. A place filled with friendship, truth, lies, love and a touch of magic. A place whete people grow old, never forget what they had and let a new generation carry on, while some try to control the world around them, fighting and clawing to stay young and in control. This is a book where three generations collide and there are three stories to tell. I really enjoyed this well edited book. I do not regret spending my money on this book. My only regret is it ended too soon. I will read more by this author. It is a mystery romance, there is some mild violence and rape, an unexpected and scary pregnancy, a hidden murder, clean romance, very mild sexual encounters, no cursing or religion and a homosexual relationship that is not what it seems. There is a touch of magic in the air, but it could just be coincidence. There is a lot in this book that is not as it seems. I highly recommend this book. It is chick lit with a twist and a new blue print. For ages 16 and up, though it is an adult book. Excellant read. AD
I have read and enjoyed all of Sarah Addison Allens other books however, The Peach Keeper was predictable from beginning to end. The only surprise was that it recieved such positive reviews.
I have read all of the author's previous books and was disppointed with this one. The others I could not put down, but I almost had to force myself to finish this. I hope her next book is as good as the previous ones. This did have gaps in spots and rambled in others.
I was eagerly anticipating this, but it seems Allen might have run out of gas, or had to hurry to fulfill a contract. The book seems rushed, not pulled together, and left a lot of holes that she could have filled. It could have been as good as her previous books.
It's a great story about the difference between who women are, who others think they are and who they want to be.
With Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen delivers another wonderful bit of chick lit. As with her previous books, Peach Keeper delivers on Allen's recipe of mystery, family secrets, a dash of romance, and a pinch of magic. In keeping with her other stories, Allen develops adult characters that are carrying baggage from high school while traipse across social lines to form strong friendships. In Peach Keeper, Allen tells the story of two women who build a friendship while trying to learn and protect their grandmothers' secret which has remained buried for 75 years. Willa and Paxton learn that while their personas are dissimilar at their core they share similar values. Peach Keeper is a quick read with Allen's characteristic feel good tone.
This is the story of the Joker, the Stickman, the Princess and the Freak. Small town America...part the fog and you will meet people you know..solve a mystery..fall in love..build new friendships..and all with a touch of magic....if you choose to believe. I love the way Clare Waverly and her enchanted delicacies from Garden Spells were so neatly woven into this story. Sarah Addison Allen is a marvelous story teller, who's unforgettable characters will pull you in and make you want more. I recommend all her books and anxiously await the next one. (Note: there is no bad language and although there are romantic relationships, they are not explicit; all of Ms. Allen's books would be enjoyed by and are suitable for teens as well as adults).
I've enjoyed all of this author's works for the most part ... but i'd have to classify this one as my favorite. Her characters were real and textured...complex without being exasperating. The story was well crafted and i thought very well told. Good pacing throughout. I would've loved if it had been longer...but i guess she had a story to tell...told it...then ended it. All around great spring read.
I have loved, LOVED, all of Sarah Addison's books and this newest is no different! I love the mystique/magical aspect that she spins in all of her novels. She makes me fall in love with not only the story line and characters, but the description of where her stories take place as well. Every time I read one of her novels I want to book a vacation to another part of North Carolina!
Once again Ms Addison Allen has given us another magical tale. I felt like I was in the story along with Willa and Paxton. Ms Allen has become one of my favorite authors,I'll be waiting for the next adventure.
THE PEACH KEEPER by Sarah Addison Allen is an amazing romance/suspense set in present day Walls of Water,North Carolina.The plot is easy to follow,well written with a touch of magic,a lot of friendship,romance,love and century old secrets. While secrets are buried not only above ground but also below ground.When a skeleton is found buried beneath the century old Blue Ridge Madam property,Willa and Paxton are thrusted together to uncover the truths that has transcended not only time but also the hearts and souls of the living. Friendship grows,and hearts open up as century old secrets are revealed. The characters are quirky,charming and will capture your heart. This is not only the tale of friendship but also the tale of mystery,suspense,along romance and unshakable bonds that are strong thru bad times and good. From one generation to the next and can endure forever.That is a true friendship. This a true Southern fiction with a touch of magic and a strong friendship.Anyone interested in North Carolina author,mystery,suspense,magic,strong friendships,romance,and buried secrets this is the book for you.A great read that will leave you wanting more from this author.This book was received for the purpose of review from Library Thing and the publisher and details can be found at Bantam dell,an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group and My Book Addiction Reviews.